Obama staff will say CU L8R 2 IM





Barack Obama may get to keep his BlackBerry, but David Axelrod is losing his IM.

The lawyers broke the bad news to Obama aides at a briefing Friday morning convened by incoming Deputy White House Counsel Cassandra Butts: Not only are they leaving the modern world to enter a White House where some of the clunky desktop computers still run Windows 2000 but — worst of all — they'll be forced to surrender a form of communication staffers have relied on for the last two years to communicate with each other, outside allies, and the press.

From Axelrod, the chief campaign strategist, down to junior staffers in the press office, Obama's campaign relied heavily on software many of them began using in high school — AOL Instant Messager and Google Chat...But a calculus that's perhaps one part security, one part law, and two parts politics, has long barred instant messaging from the White House.

"They just told us flat out we couldn't IM in the White House," groused one senior staffer Friday...

The clunky technology is standard issue for government offices, but the bar on instant messaging is particular to the White House. Legal and security experts say it is dictated by the fear of embarrassment if IMs were to be disclosed. The Presidential Records Act requires White House documents to become public five years after a president leaves office, and most lawyers think it would apply to any instant messages discussing government business.


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